Whether you're camping in the desert, hanging out at your local park, or looking to improve your balance, slacklining is a fun, challenging, and readily transportable outside activity. But, with so many different options on the market, how do you pick the best slackline? We tested 11 of the most popular kits on the market today and rated them on ease of set-up, versatility, quality, disassembly, and features.
We used these criteria in order to select our award winners. Ease of Set-up For testing the ease of set-up, we wanted to know if the process was straightforward, or were there special instructions that either made assembly easier or more complex? Are those instructions written clearly and easy to understand? Can a single person rig it without too much trouble, or is a friend with some extra muscle needed? Is assembly a time-consuming process, or is it easy to rig quickly? If complex rigging is required to get a tight line, what is the learning curve?
Not all slacklines are alike. Some have low stretch for easy learning while others have dynamic bounce and stretch for big jumps and trick. Some have just enough webbing length for a shorter learning line while others are over a hundred feet long. Each line has its intended purpose, but a line that will work for more than one discipline will allow a user to grow in the sport, or at least offer a little variety to keep things challenging. We were also looking to see if the kit will work with a variety of anchor diameters. If you plan on using large trees, you will need to make sure that the webbing on the ratchet is long enough to reach around them. Similarly, if the kit came with tree protection, were the pads large enough to wrap around the trees or were extra pads needed?
A quality slackline will last for years, while others will start to show wear after only a few sessions if not rigged properly. A good ratchet will keep the webbing centered in the drum keeping the edge from fraying. We assessed the reliability of the ratchet and noted any failures or inconsistencies. Some slacklines have a higher or more "finished" build quality, while others seem to have cut corners to keep prices low.
Slacklines are under immense tension, and removing that tension safely and without injury or damaging the equipment is obviously the goal. Ratchet based systems can "POP!" abruptly upon release, sometimes fraying or abraiding the edge of the webbing. Other systems have a slow-release mechanism that takes that "bite" out of the process and helps preserve the integrity of the webbing. We also take into account how long it takes to disassemble and pack up.
There are quite a few types of slacklines and each one has characteristics and feature sets that set it apart. Some have a set of features making it ideal for learning, such as an overhead training line or low stretch webbing for a more stable walking experience. Some trick lines have stronger ratchets to get them super tight and special features to release tension safely without the startling "POP!" which in turn also reduces wear on the webbing. Some use two ratchets to get a long tight line, while others use pully systems to get super tight. Some have excellent tree pro while others left the tree protection out entirely. We note and asses all the features and characteristics that make each kit unique.